Sunday 22 December 2013

Developing your `Radar'

It is obvious that nation states, in the modern world, without radar and other detection systems would be extremely vulnerable. Likewise, the concerted development of `radar like awareness’ is also essential for budoka (martial artists). But how can one develop such awareness? Well there are several ways, but the most important of these—in standard karate training—are as follows:

 Firstly, when practicing kihon or kata, in their solo forms of training, one needs to maintain constant awareness: of their surroundings/opponent(s). This takes immense mental discipline, but in time, becomes second nature.

 Secondly, when practicing jiyu-kumite don’t only focus on your opponent, but what’s around you—be ready for anything. Likewise, in the case of yakusoku-kumite (prearranged sparring), don’t concentrate on the `announced attack’ but rather be ready for a mawashi-zuki (roundhouse punch); someone applying a shimewaza (strangulation technique) from behind; a rugby tackle; a gedan mae-geri instead of a jodan oi-zuki, etc... As emphasized before, this ultimately becomes a concerted effort that one consciously undertakes in every moment of one’s training.

 By and large, `keeping your radar switched on’ becomes just like other fundamental skills, such as using your hips when you perform techniques or not changing height (during steps, turns and stance transitions).

Lastly, and most importantly, one needs to intensify their training environment whilst adhering the two aforementioned points. Only by having an intense/realistic training environment, and by maintaining self-discipline, can one sharpen their `detection capabilities’ to a high level. I hope the critical importance of fostering this skill has been vividly highlighted in this article; moreover, that developing it requires a concerted effort in one’s daily practice.

 © André Bertel. Aso-shi, Kumamoto. Japan (2013).

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